Back To Work: The Challenges Faced By Women & Creating Opportunities

Jun 8, 2022, 17:11 IST

Women

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Workplaces and work-culture has evolved and changed drastically in the last few years. The Pandemic especially has shown the world several new ways to work. Work is no more just a means of survival, it has become a means of independence, creativity and freedom. And with this evolution of the work-culture we also see more and more women stepping up. So, what does this post-pandemic, new era work-culture mean for women? shares Nishita Lalvani, senior manager for Indeed India and SEA.

Nishita LalvaniNishita-Lalvani

What Has Been The Impact Of Covid On Women In The Workforce?
The pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact on work, labour trends and hiring. We recently conducted a study on ‘Women rejoining work post-Covid-19’, to understand the impact of the pandemic on women workforce. The findings suggested that the pandemic has enabled more favourable conditions for women to re-enter the workforce. The primary reason for this is the rise in remote/hybrid work and companies being open to flexible hours.

Only 10% of women seem to favour working from office. Majority of women lean towards work-from-home arrangements or hybrid mode of work. Employers too seem to take on the same path. Employers acknowledge the benefits of such work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements. Around 75 % employers believe that remote/hybrid work models are conducive for women in India. While initially many women did have to quit work during restrictions due to the pandemic, the subsequent flexibility and option of hybrid work proves promising to bring more women back to work.

Are We Seeing A Majority Of Women Wanting To Return To Work Post A Break, Maternity Leave Etc?
We are definitely seeing more women wanting to return to work post a break. Taking a professional break for women usually entails taking time off for maternity leave or stepping away from work to care for children. More than half the women we surveyed are rejoining the workforce. These include the women who quit their jobs before and during Covid. While maximum women in the Automobile sector were willing to rejoin work, Manufacturing, and Construction and Real Estate also saw women returning.

Women
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What Are The Challenges That Stand In The Way Of Women Returning To Work – Family Responsibilities, Pressure?
There are several factors that are deterrents for women who wish to rejoin work. Women face a battle on two fronts – managing work at home and combating gender bias at work. Female employees often have to quit their jobs to take care of family responsibilities including childcare. Health concerns and maternity leave are the other reasons. Additionally, women continue to face non-inclusive behaviors at work. Overworking or working night shifts have significantly increased their workload. Many also say that they face regressive attitudes from employers. Not being considered for promotions and not being given challenging work has set women back too.

A significant proportion of employers agree with the view that female employees quit their organizations over the last two years because of family responsibilities. Many admit that that lack of recognition by the management was a significant factor in causing women to quit, and there are few who believe health concerns were the reason.

Women
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What Are Some Initiatives Or Programs That Employers Can Undertake To Get More Women Back?
Our report shows that women who are returning to the workplace expect organizations to facilitate their transitions to work following rejoining. 42% of those who we surveyed would want their organization to have up-skilling/ reskilling programs, and 30% would like re-entry programs. Moreover, they would like facilities for flexible/remote working to ease into work. On their part, employers are beginning to understand the barriers to re-entry and are promoting suitable programs meant to ease the transition for women. Employers are focused on providing returning women with manageable workloads and adequate facilities for flexible/ remote working. While 19% of the employers we surveyed also have up-skilling/ reskilling programs to equip women with the necessary competency, only 4% provide re-entry programs. This is an area organization can focus on to enable a smooth transition for women employees.

How Can Employers Combat These Challenges To Create A Culture Of Acceptance Of Women Returning To Work?
One of the ways in which employers can do this is by introducing flexibility in working hours or work location. The pandemic has proven the need for organizations to move toward a culture that accommodates the personal lives of employees, essential in enabling more women to work again.

Similarly, it is important for organizations to weed out biases at every level. Sometimes the leadership sets lofty goals, but managers may reject candidates based on gaps in their resumes. Hence, standardized protocols, sensitization sessions and programs are key in ensuring that not only are women returning after breaks are hired but are met with acceptance at the workplace.

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